John Ross arrives at his new work place Friday.
John Ross showed up at Paul Brown Stadium for the first time as a Bengal Friday and he already knew that the fastest man to ever run 40 yards at the NFL scouting combine is now playing in the building named after the man that invented the race for football evaluation.
"We talked about it when I was here on my visit," said Ross of the PBS trip two weeks ago. "It's pretty cool."
Ross is here in large part because of that speed, but it is fueled by a simmering passion that doesn't take long to emerge. Gary Cablayan, the Los Angeles-area coach who got him ready for his world-famous combine saw the white-hot competitiveness in the practice for the broad jump.
"He tried to hit 11 feet and a lot of days if he didn't make it, he'd stay late and keep trying," Cablayan recalled Friday. "He got close. I think he got to 10-11."
He finally got it and he waited until the best time to do it. An 11-1 at the actual combine. The fuel is why Cablayan says Ross opted for Jordan High School in Long Beach instead of national powerhouse Long Beach Poly.
"He didn't want to be just another player," Cablayan said. "He wanted to play against the best."
More fuel? Ross recalled how when he was in high school and making the conversion from cornerback and how he couldn't catch a ride with awful hands and the coach would make everybody stay until he caught three long ones.
"We'd be there for two hours," Ross said. "They hated me."
More fuel? More gas on the fire? Ross became incensed and frustrated in the last few months before the draft with whispers about his injuries, durability, and physicality. He tore his labrum in the fifth game of last season and went on to play every game.
"So I wasn't able to use my arms. The times I did I kind of struggled because I didn't really have the strength in my shoulders." Ross said. "I tore my labrum blocking and playing one of the most physical teams in our conference in Stanford. I don't think people understand. Some people don't watch the film so I feel like there's no need to defend yourself sometimes.
This gallery features the Bengals 9th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft John Ross - Washington
"Imagine if I was healthy is what I can pitch to people. That's going back to defending yourself. It really does nothing to you but create distractions. I kind of don't want distractions on me or the team. I don't say too much about it. I just want to do what I'm here for and that's to play. "
Ross finally had his agent release a statement a few weeks ago before the draft to clear it all up. No. He hasn't had two ACL tears. No. He wasn't playing on an MCL sprain.
"I had to go ask my doctors; I was like 'Was this me?" I had to check my medical history. I don't remember any of that happening," Ross said. "I don't think that's fair to anybody. I wouldn't wish that on my enemy. It's like you're playing with somebody's life. And I don't think that's fair to anybody. I just wanted to release a statement on that for people to know what actually happened."
On Friday, Ross went through it one more time.
"I tore my (left) ACL and attached to that was my meniscus," he said of an April, 2015 injury. "And I tore my meniscus on my right knee (and had surgery after the 2014 season). And I had the labrum tear, and that was pretty much it."
More fuel? They couldn't even get his birthday right. There were reports out there saying that he was the ripe old age of 22.
"I'm 21," he said. "People say why would they draft a guy who's been through knee surgeries and is 22, older than guys who are already in the league? I'm definitely 21. I was born in 1995. People say I was born in '94, and I don't understand where that's coming from either."
Ross quelled the birther controversy. The date is Nov. 27, 1995. The day before in Jacksonville, the Bengals beat the Jaguars with 17 seconds left on a touchdown catch by wide receiver Carl Pickens on the way to his club record 17 TDs that season.
Which is where Ross comes in.
"He's a competitor," Cablayan said.
This gallery features the Bengals 73rd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft Jordan Willis - Kansas State